The Famous Spiegel Season , 12 February – 24 April, 2011

The Famous Spiegel Tent, which for much of the past decade has been a much-loved feature of the Arts Centre forecourt, returns to Melbourne with an exciting new program of cutting-edge cabaret, music, comedy and circus programmed by the Arts Centre. Check out the program here.

Offering a range of ticketed shows, the Famous Spiegel tent season will run for 11 weeks from 12 February and will also introduce visitors to a series of themed outdoor spaces designed to provide a relaxed social atmosphere in the shadow of the iconic aspire.

Whether you are attending one of the season events or just strolling past, take a moment to have a drink the bar located in the vintage tram next to the tent on the forecourt and chill out watching the promenade along St Kilda Road.


SOVEREIGN HILL, at BALLARAT is about a 90 minute journey North West of Melbourne. It is one of those tourist attractions that I always take my visitors, as a living city from the1850-1890′s with mine, working shops and town etc. it will appeal if you have children in your group. There are a range of accommodations on site and if you do not wish to be totally immersed in the experience there is lots of choice nearby in Ballarat.

Sovereign Hill
Sovereign Hill

I recommend staying for the sound and light show “Blood on the Southern Cross’ which is well worth the additional cost. If planning to see the sound and light show, try and book the first show before you leave Melbourne or once you arrive at Sovereign Hill. Staying on to catch the second show if they are running one can make the day a long one especially if travelling up and back in one day

‘The Tan Track’ – Walk, Run or Slip Stream

What a great place to be at lunchtime to eat your sandwich or early evening between  5.00 – 7.30pm, just to watch the slip stream of walkers, joggers and runners or perhaps as you cross the track to enter the Botanical Gardens .

If you’re on the way to an event or one of the other attractions in the area, whether it be a game at AAMI Park Stadium to see Melbourne Storm Rugby League or to the MCG [Melbourne Cricket Ground] for Aussie rules football, you’ll inevitably find yourself walking around part of the track as well.

However, most are users including the 3.8km track length in one circuit of their daily exercise ritual – but it is OK just to go for a stroll!! The tan is a lush tree lined perimeter to the Botanical Gardens and at times also borders the Yarra River. In early evening you might smell the scent and waft of ginger flowers coming across the fence on the Alexander Avenue stretch – M’mmmm glorious. You’ll find people there at all times of the day and I have colleague who joins her running group before dawn to prepare for their next half or full marathon together.

The track made up from sand and crushed rock, has lighting all the way. Although the last phase of an upgrade to the track and lighting is just being completed on the southern side and still requires a little fine tuning.

Whether you are running or walking most people tend to go around the track clockwise and I suspect this is to take advantage of the short but steep hill climb on the Anderson Street side doing their fartlek exercise on the straight. If walking, as I do, my suggestion is to walk anti-clockwise. That way it’s easier to keep left and see the rest of the world as they slip by.

What’s underneath the Onion Skin – other things nearby:

Butting up close to the track are numerous attractions too many to name. A few include AAMI Park the home of Melbourne Storm, Melbourne Rebels and Melbourne Victory. Flinders Park the home to the Australian Tennis Open. Melbourne Olympic Park one of the athletics tracks for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic games.

A mix of Melbourne Rowing Clubs on the Yarra River, along the banks of which are several inbuilt BBQ’s and tables available for use, free of charge.

Government House, home of the Victorian Governor General and the Sidney Myer Music Bowl where the annual Carols by Candlelight are performed and over the summer months several free orchestral concerts by MSO and other performers.

The Shrine of Remembrance, the Royal Botanical Gardens [RBG], the National Herbarium, the Observatory Gate and Café and the Historic Places Trust property – La Trobe Cottage.

Suburb/Neighbourhood: MELBOURNE CBD, SOUTHBANK, SOUTH MELBOURNE, RICHMOND & SOUTH YARRA [5 minutes from South Melbourne Homestay]

On this walk [run] there are several water fountains drink stations on the track, or you may like to continue you walk [run] along to Southgate to pick up a refreshing drink from Boost Juice.

How to get there: Melway reference – Map 2F J9

By Car: Parking around the Tan, there are a range of two and four hour parking spots or weekend s on St Kilda Road
By Tram: Any tram along St Kilda Road except a number one, which turns off to South Melbourne.

By Train: Flinders Street Railway Station

Last Post and where was the Bugle Boy



There are a couple of ways to access the Shrine of Remembrance, the one I like the best if not walking is to travel by tram and get off at stop 19 – St Kilda Road and Dorcas Street.  If arriving from the city,  when alighting the tram you’ll notice the reserve with the Shrine sitting at the  top of the grassy mound to your left.

Walk up the steps [about 20]and you’ll find yourself on the forecourt. Whether you have arrived on foot or by transport this a great spot to start your walk around the Shrine and reserve, with vistas to your left that you hadn’t expected and the eternal flame adjacent.  In the distance, past the walk up to the forecourt blends the street cutting through the centre of the city.  The building at that end of the streetscape forms what seems like another book ends with this impressive memorial. The forecourt is flanked by trees standing like sentinels and it’s not too hard to imagine the rank and file men or women having served their country as they parade and march up to the foot of the steps on

The Shrine of Remembrance

ANZAC day or one of the other 120 ceremonies held at the Shrine annually.

Looking to the right, let your eyes follow the steps up two or three levels to rest on the Shrine at the top of the steps. This impressive building stands tall and scanning your eyes up the structure you’ll notice that there are two levels on the outside which you can gain access to from the inside. The outside levels are a great place to capture the vista to the other side of the city on camera. You’ll even sneak a peak through the buildings to Port Philip bay or across to Albert Park and the lake.

Originally built to remember those lost in the Great war of 1914 -1918, the Shrine is now the focal point for those days on the calendar where the men and women are remembered and honoured having lost their life in active service.  You’ll see evidence of this if you look around the reserve at the foot of the trees that have been planted or one of the small sculptures and fountains dotted around in memory, each with a plaques commemorating a specific event.

On this occasion I am not sure if a significant day, we heard the sound of the last post ring out across the evening air, but the bugler was not in sight!! Having visited on other occasions I recommend the visitor centre , inside the entrance a featured wall of poppies and occurring on the hour in the main chamber, a short ceremony with light is performed.

Poppies-Shrine of Remembrance

It is easy for 60-120 minutes at disappear at the Shrine and reserve, depending on your interest. My partner  always  say the Americans do monuments well and the place to see the best is in Washington, DC., although I enjoy Washington. I think this little pocket of the Kings Domain which the Shrine of Remembrance is very special place.

We pass through the reserve several times a week on one of our many walks around “the Tan“, the track around the Botanical Gardens popular with runners, walkers or sightseers at lunchtime or from around 5.00 pm each day. Check out ‘What’s underneath the Onion Skin’ below for other options to add to your adventure, literally across the road and minutes away.

What’s underneath the Onion Skin – other things to do nearby:

The Royal Botanical Gardens [RBG], incorporates the Children’s Garden a favourite to take my godson, the Guilfoyle’s Volcano – the rebuilt resevoir, Herb Garden and adjacent Camelia Walk. If gardens are your thing and you have the time for an expedition by car, 90 minutes is another campus of the RBG and the Australian Garden in Cranbourne.

Dotted around the perimeter of the gardens are The National Herbarium, The Observatory Gate and Café , Government House and the Historic Places Trust property – La Trobe Cottage.


On this walk there are Coffee Shops in abundance, just a little tucked away.  Across the road from the Shrine is the Observatory Gate Café, inside the gardens overlooking the Ornamental Lake is located another café. Alternatively outside one the gates on the Domain Road and Anderson Street intersection is a row of more gourmet offerings.

Suburb/Neighbourhood: MELBOURNE [5 minutes from South Melbourne Homestay]

How to get there:  Melway reference – Map 2F J12

By Car: Parking around the Tan, there are a range of two and four hour parking spots or weekend s on St Kilda Road

By Tram:

St Kilda Road and Dorcas Street – stop number 19 Shrine of Remembrance, Vietnam War Memorial.

St Kilda Road and Coventry Street – stop number 18 is a  gradual flatter approach but a little further to walk but easier managing a stroller and children or if steps might be a difficulty.

The Domain Road intersection Terminus– walk from the rear of the reserve to the site.


The Melbourne Magic Festival, 4-16 July 2011

The Melbourne Magic Festival

To make it easy for you to choose which shows to see the Festival organsiers have divided them up into five different categories:


This year the Melbourne Magic Festival has TEN great shows especially designed to appeal to kids under 10 years old. These shows are perfect school holiday entertainment.


In 2011 we have EIGHT completely different shows perfect for the whole family to enjoy together. Some are daytime shows while others are perfect after dinner shows.


Magic is no longer “just for kids”. With TEN shows designed for adults to enjoy, this year you’ll see world class sleight of hand, mind reading, hypnotism, ventriloquism and live horror! All perfect for ‘after dark’and most are family-friendly but slanted towards adults.


Last year over 1,100 kids took part in our magic workshops and this year we’re expecting even more! We also have classes for adults in close up and stage magic, plus special international guest lecturers for the more experienced prestidigitators.


The Australian Junior Championships of Magic are back, and this year we have the first FISM Oceania Championships of Magic – open to all ages! Plus free entertainment nightly in the bar courtesy of the honest conman Nicholas J Johnson with his show ‘Wanna Bet’.

The Melbourne Magic Festival offers four easy ways to guarantee your tickets in 2011:
1 – Group Sales – Come in a group of ten and get generous bookings and priority seating! Click here for more details. Call the Group Bookings Hotline on 0459 487 381

2 – Phone bookings – You can call the Northcote Town Hall on (03) 9481 9500 to book your tickets, but be aware you will be paying a $5 ‘per transaction fee’ on top of your ticket price.

3 – In Person – Just roll on up to the Northcote Town Hall Box Office in person during normal business hours and you can even buy your tickets with good old fashioned cash if you like! The Box Office is also open one hour before show times but we can’t guarantee the show you want to see won’t be sold out. Play it safe, book in advance. (The Box Office is located at 189 High St, Northcote)

If you’d like to check if a show is almost sold out click here and take a look at it on the Daily Schedule page.

4 – Online – Just go to the page of the show you want to see, click on the CLICK HERE TO BOOK link, and get your tickets instantly and with no extra charges. Or you can go directly to the Northcote Town Hall Online Box Office by clicking here.

Suburb/Neighbourhood: NORTHCOTE

How to get there: Tram 86 to High Street, Northcote – but refer to the festival website for details of tram track maintenance details over the period of the festival.